Statement On The Gender Based Violence Command Centre Following several media reports on the Gender Based Violence Command Centre’s (GBVCC) operations,
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The Department of Social Development (DSD) wishes to give an accurate account of and set the record straight on the status of the GBVCC.
Firstly, it is factually incorrect and misleading to state that the GBVCC has “completely collapsed”. It is indeed operating and functional, albeit some technical challenges which the is typical of operations of this nature, and to which the department has been engaging with the relevant government departments and the service provider.
Amongst some of the interventions being implemented, the department, as an interim measure, migrated the GBVCC from Salvokop to the Human Sciences Research Council building, where the National DSD is housed. The centre is processing calls that come from either the victims or those reporting known cases of abuse, and Social Service Professions are directing these calls to the relevant bodies for intervention in line with established protocols.
Secondly, the Department refutes allegations that social workers were dismissed from the Command Centre or were deliberately reduced, as being factually untrue. The Command Centre originally employed fifty-six social work professionals and six officials providing technical support, that were distributed into four shifts. The current count of officials is forty-eight, due to natural attrition, resignations, and retirements, and not as a result of any deliberate action by the Department. In fact, the Department had actually doubled its capacity when migrating to Salvokop.
Furthermore, the department strongly rejects any claims that it pays the service provide R45 million per month for this contract. This assertion is once again entirely false and baseless.
Finally, it is important to state that the department has diligently followed the due process as prescribed by the Public Financial Management Act and the National Treasury Regulations, in appointing the service provider. It is equally important to underline that the Minister of Social Development has never interfered with or sought to interfere in any procurement related matter of the department. These are internal and administrative processes which the Executive Authority never gets involved in. The department thus vehemently dismisses any baseless insinuations made with Machiavellian intent, that the Minister is somehow linked to the service provider or influenced any process in the awarding of same contract.
The Department wishes to assure South Africans that the GBVCC remains operational and continues to provide the intended service to all who require it.
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Urgent Call To Address Gaps In Shelters Supporting Victims Of Gender Based Violence And Femicide
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Sandton, 21 November 2023: Lack of sufficient funding, transportation for victims of gender-based violence, lack of social workers in some facilities, shelters’ compliance with the norms and standards were some of the gaps identified on the first day of the two-day National Shelter Indaba currently underway in Sandton.
Delegates heard that half of the shelters’ allocated budget was spent on salaries and this stretched the finances of shelters that require more funding to efficiently render services to victims of gender-based violence.
One of the shelter managers, Ms Sindisiwe Msimango, from Mpumalanga indicated that: “transport is a problem for shelters as victims must be transported to and from police stations and health facilities. Nowadays, perpetrators of GBV are using sophisticated ways to track their victims and this poses a risk for both the victims and social workers.”
She also stated the lack of security and delays in the payment of subsidies from government also posed a huge threat to the safety of persons working and living in the shelters.
Ms Rose Bailey from a shelter in Northern Cape Province asked for shelters to be treated with dignity and not be seen as charities as they play an important role in saving lives and restoring women’s mental health. She appealed for more attention to be given to the work provided by shelters.
Joining the Indaba virtually, former Deputy President of South Africa, Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka reminded delegates that GBVF was declared a pandemic and said that it should be treated the same way as COVID-19 where everyone, including governments, were playing their part.
She indicated that often than not, women continued to be failed by the system because when they report abuse “their cases are not efficiently prosecuted and this discourages them”.
Providing solutions to some of the challenges by shelters, Uber SA shared that they partnered with the National Shelter Movement South to provide safe transportation for victims of gender based violence and women in general.
Uber SA senior operations manager, Mr Collen Mphabantshi told the summit the safety of women was at the centre of their business. “Uber SA strives to ensure that uber users can travel under safe conditions with amongst others: access to pre-onboarding applications such as Driver Screening, Vehicle Inspection and Driver Profile.” He revealed that to date, Uber South Africa has successfully transported 6 715 women and their children into paces of safety through the National Shelter Movement South Africa.
Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu appealed to the private sector to come to the table and assist in supporting the work that is done by government through shelters. “Often in these gathering the private sector is not sitting around the table. We call upon the private sector to play a role by availing suitable buildings and infrastructure which can be used as shelters for victims and survivors of gender-based violence and femicide,” Zulu said.
The Minister said: “shelters for victims of violence and crime have been a central and a critical resource providing care, safety, support, opportunities for healing and an understanding of the dynamics of abuse to South African women and children. Shelters have provided a much-needed refuge where women cannot only be safe but take stock of their lives and receive the emotional support needed to make critical decisions. They also play a significant role in interrupting and breaking the cycle of violence.”
The department of social development has allocated more than R211 million for a period of four years towards 134 shelters rendering victim support services across the country. The minister also reported to the Indaba what the department had done since last year’s gathering including the development of an inter-sectoral shelter policy for victims of violence and crime. She revealed that during the 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children, the department will launch another shelter in the North West.
The National Shelter Indaba continues tomorrow at the Sandton Hotel in Johannesburg and will be carried live on www.dsdtv.org.za/live-stream from 9am.
ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Third National Summit On Substance Abuse To Address Substance Abuse And Illicit Trafficking
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Given the high prevalence of substance abuse and illicit trafficking, which affects negatively the wellbeing of the country’s population, the Department of Social Development and the Central Drug Authority (CDA), will from 14 - 16 November, host the 3rd National Summit on Substance Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, at Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre, in Boksburg.
Under the theme: “Towards sustainable, coordinated and impactful strategies for national drug and substance use in South Africa” the Summit will unfold on the premise of the need to realise a South Africa free of substance abuse through capacity building sessions on collaborative and coordinated evidence based and sustainable socio-economic interventions.
Civil Society Organisations together with experts, leaders in government attending the Summit are expected to deliberate on Drug Demand Reduction, Drug Supply Reduction, Access to medicines and prevention of NPS Diversion, Governance, Accountability and Leadership, Research Development, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Economic Development, as key thematic areas of the Summit.
The Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu will address the conference.
Minister Zulu will be accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Social Development, Mrs Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, and the Chairperson of the Central Drug Authority, Ms Nandi Mayathula-Khoza.
Setting the scene and sharing lived experiences, affected and infected persons from various provinces across South Africa will be speaking at the opening ceremony. Former Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates player, Junaid Hartley, now a recovered substance user, will be sharing his fourteen-year battle with addiction and sleeping on the streets of Johannesburg.
Members of the media are invited to attend and cover the 3rd National Summit planned as follows:
Date: 14-16 November 2023
Time: 09h00 daily
Venue: Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre, 44 Viewpoint Road, Bartlett in Boksburg,
ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
Speech by the Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, MP, during the 3rd National Summit on Substance Abuse and Illicit Trafficking at the Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Boksburg, Gauteng Province
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Tuesday, 14 November 2023
Chairperson of the Central Drug Authority, Ms Nandi Mayathula-Khoza;
Experts and Representatives from the Civil Society Organisations;
Drug Users and Researchers working in the space of Substance Abuse;
Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Leaders in government and various formations;
Strategic Partners representing Women, Youth, LGBTQI+ community, Treatment and Business sectors;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
It is a singular honour and privilege for me to address this important occasion – the third National summit on Substance Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, under the theme; “Towards sustainable, coordinated and impactful strategies for national drug and substance use in South Africa”.
After delays caused by unforeseen circumstances, including, the COVID-19 pandemic, which did not only claim many lives but also halted many activities, the third summit is a strategic enabler which empower role-players in the field of substance abuse to discuss harmful substance use, misuse, and abuse as well as sharing of information in terms of Section 56, subsection 1 of the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act 70 of 2008.
As we strive to build a caring society for all South Africans, the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act, of 2008, mandates the Department of Social Development to develop programmes and support initiatives aimed at the prevention and treatment of substance abuse.
This therefore affords all of us, especially, policy makers and researchers, a space to work in collaboration with, amongst others, government departments and other key stakeholders involved in dealing with the challenge of harmful substance use. It is through such collaboration that the summit would deliberate on exchange of good practice, evidence-based interventions, challenges, and sustainable socio-economic strategies. All these will assist with reducing the supply, demand and harm caused by the use, misuse and abuse of Alcohol, Tobacco, and other Drugs.
On a positive note, the long-awaited summit will explore existing research conducted by both public and private institutions on the prevalence of substance use, misuse and abuse in the country and encourage institutions of higher learning and academia to assist further in conducting research.
We are honoured to have in our midst, members of Cabinet, including, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development and the Chairperson of the Central Drug Authority, who are key towards realisation of a drug free society.
Programme Director, the scourge of substance abuse is like a compound involving many persons and institutions. Some of these entities and individuals, are using various substances for educational purposes and research, which is a good initiative for Social Workers, Medical Experts, Government Departments, Entities and Families to learn and have a broader understanding.
I am mentioning families, because many individuals, who were once responsible citizens and role models for their children and communities they live in, are now in rehabilitation centres. This is not only a concern for government which spend millions on rehabilitating abusers of substances, but also cause a long-term emotional and psychological dents and wounds, which may not be easy to heal.
Today, South Africa is faced with array of social ills such as dysfunctional families, children living on the streets, high prevalence of teenage pregnancy, school dropouts, the spread of HIV/Aids chronic disease, and Gender Based Violence and Femicide, which has been declared a second pandemic in the country. Some if not most of these problems are caused by substance abuse, which could have been prevented if we worked together as different sectors in society.
We do have very good policies which are envied by many countries globally, but our progress in terms of successful implementation of same, leave much to be desired. This calls for drastic measures as efforts, time and money is invested in the good policies we have as a country.
One of them is the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP), which comprises the seven goals which should also be reflected upon during the summit. These goals are Demand and Reduction, Supply Reduction, Access to substances for medicinal use, New Psychotropic Substance (NPS) and Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS), Governance, Leadership and Accountability, Research, Development, Monitoring and Evaluation and Economic Development.
The NDMP which reflects the country’s response to the substance abuse problem as outlined by the United Nations Conventions and other international bodies, outlines the role each Department should play in addressing substance use and abuse. In short, the goal of the of the NDMP is to contribute to safer and healthier communities through coordinated efforts to prevent use, treat substance use disorders, and reduce production and distribution of illicit drugs in South Africa.
It therefore means that we are on track today as we engage, convince, and mobilise community members and structures to participate in the fight against substance abuse.
In support of the NDMP, I would like to emphasise that prevention, treatment, and law enforcement authorities are important pillars of helping to reduce substance abuse in South Africa. It is for this reason that for duration of the summit, relevant Departments, stakeholders and role players.
Esteemed guests, in their nature, substances, including, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and others, cannot be taken lightly because once abused, they have negative impact and potential of crippling and causing deaths. It is therefore imperative that as we engage, our thoughts and expertise are not only based on the socio-economic challenges of substance abuse in society, but rather solution driven.
Most recently, we attended the Global Alcohol Policy Conference in Cape Town, with 55 countries in attendance. Amongst its recommendations; Denormalisation of alcohol use in society; fast track the tabling of liquor amendment bill in February 2024; Department of Health to table marketing of alcohol beverages bill, just to mention a few. I hope that the summit will also consider these recommendations and engage on how best these can be implemented.
Both the conference and summit came at a right time as the Cabinet has just approved that the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Use Disorder Policy be gazetted for public consultation. This policy will be published on the 17th of November 2023, for public comments, and I urge you to make sure that this summit do contribute to it.
An eventof this magnitude should be prioritised, given the fact that drugs and drug misuse remain a national concern requiring greater collaboration among key sectors of our society at all levels. The complexity and pervasiveness of drug misuse and the harms it caused to individuals, families and communities means that no one can tackle it alone.
Despite our differences in opinions, we have to use the next three days to create a platform to share information, expertise and promote a collaborative approach amongst government departments and other key national and international stakeholders who gets their hands dirty working on the challenge of substance use and misuse. As a result, this summit should further allow exchange of good practice, evidence-based interventions, challenges and sustainable socio-economic strategies aimed at reducing the supply, demand and harm caused by the use, misuse and abuse of Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs (ATOD).
What makes the summit more important to me and my colleagues is that Cabinet recently approved the proposal by Social Development to reestablish the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Substance Abuse. This Committee will assist with mitigating the impact of the risks associated with alcohol and substance abuse amongst the youth; children; women; persons with disabilities; pregnant women; families in all their manifestation, including, child headed families. Disadvantaged persons in vulnerable communities; occupational groups at risks, such as artists, athletes, and professionals; as well as key populations, like the LGBTQI+ community, sex workers and migrant workers.
The summit will focus primarily on achieving the following objectives:
- Evaluate the National Drug Master Plan (status of implementation and review of NDMP 2019-2024)
- Inform the policy on drugs and substance use
III. To improve our knowledge base on how illicit drugs relate to other urgent challenges, such as conflicts and environmental degradation.
- To share information on sustainable economic opportunities for unemployed youth
- To develop an action plan that will address resolutions taken at the summit.
In preparation for this summit, the Department of Social Development and the CDA committed to bring to the fore the voices of communities through provincial dialogues. This gave us the opportunity to engage communities at grass roots level ensuring that no one is left behind. The dialogues were aimed at getting inputs on the effectiveness of the National Drug Master Plan 2019-2024, the inputs will be useful in our deliberations in this summit.
We all have a role to play in ensuring that all people are and feel safe in South Africa as envisioned in the National Development Plan (Vision 2030). It is important that we do this together to protect the most vulnerable in our society.
The issues raised and resolutions taken at this meeting will find expressions at the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Substance Abuse. We have to come out of this place with a clear mind and zeal to work together and share how we can reduce the prevalence of alcohol and substance abuse and its associated challenges of illegal liquor outlets, underage drinking, to name of few. It is for this reason that the deliberations of the summit will focus on four broad themes, namely policy and legislation, demand reduction, role of civil society and harm reduction.
Most importantly, this summit will provide an opportunity to discuss sustainable, coordinated, and impactful strategies for reduction of drug and substance use and misuse in South Africa as the theme suggest.
The days of talking statistics are over. This is the time to work very hard to reduce the statistics and talk implementation and progress.
As I conclude, I wish to thank all institutions that were involved in organising this summit, especially, members of the CDA, representatives from various formations and institutions, the organising committee and government officials.
I would also like to extend my profound gratitude to the provincial Substance Abuse Forums, Provincial Departments, Civil Society Organisations, and Institutions of Higher Learning, who continue partnering with the Department of Social Development through anti-substance abuse initiatives.
We thank all partners for their continued leadership and your commitment as demonstrated through your support and national efforts made by your respective departments in addressing the scourge of substance abuse and illicit trafficking in the country.
Our word of appreciation also goes to all who participated in the provincial substance abuse dialogues which served as build-up activities towards this Summit.
Working together by adopting a multi-sectoral approach, will assist on ensuring that we have a successful summit, characterised by robust engagements, deliberations and information sharing sessions.
I thank you
A Decent Path – a new documentary that traces the transformation of the R350 grant on the lives of beneficiaries.
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A Decent Path – a new documentary that traces the transformation of the R350 grant on the lives of beneficiaries.
The Social Relief of Distress Grant was introduced during the Covid-19 Pandemic crisis at the amount of R350 per month.
This monthly social assistance income support brought immediate relief to millions of unemployed adults and kept many local economies afloat, greatly reducing economic disaster that could have followed the devastating impact of the pandemic and the lockdowns that followed.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has praised the programme for its impact of “reducing poverty and enabling recipients to search for jobs and to engage in other economic activities to support their livelihoods”.
South Africa provides social grants to poor children and older persons as well as people with disabilities, but until the SRoD grant was introduced, despite a constitutional right to everyone to access social security, no social income support was available for working age adults in a country in which almost 12 million adults are unemployed.
In the November 2023 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, the Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, announced the further extension of the Social Relief of Distress that will appear in the 2024/25 Budget.
This will bring the programme into its fifth year of existence since its introduction in May 2020.
There is global evidence that social assistance income support not only meets basic needs but is one of the most significant investments in stimulating local economies.
A recent study in 42 countries shows a multiplier return of up to five times on government grant spending especially in countries of high inequality, and South Africa is the most unequal country in the world.
A Decent Path is a gripping documentary that charts the impact of the R350 grant on the lives of four main beneficiaries.
Interspersed with conversations with policy experts including the Minister of Social Development Minister Zulu, the documentary shows how transformative this grant can be, and how devastating the loss of the grant could be for beneficiaries.
Funding for the documentary came from the UN Sustainable Development Fund through UNICEF South Africa.
This is most fitting as universal social protection is one of the targets of the first Sustainable Development Goal of Ending Poverty.
The documentary ends with a clear understanding of how transformative a decent universal basic income could be.
There are echoes of the Kenyan Netflix documentary Free Money in A Decent Path which shows how topical and timely the South African policy intervention is.
However, the real wealth of this documentary lies in the stories and hopes of the beneficiaries.
The poignant sense that South Africa is on the cusp of a truly revolutionary moment that could transform the lives not only of millions of people living in destitution, but the country and the region as a whole; if national leaders have the courage to introduce a permanent and decent universal basic income support programme.
This would transform our stagnant economy and bring dignity to the lives of millions of South Africans.
The documentary is now available on:
Media enquiries may be forwarded to:
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